Novocomms secures £3.6M grant to develop 5G mmWave solution

12th June 2024
Sheryl Miles

Novocomms, the UK-based antenna specialist, has secured £3.6 million of funding from the Government’s Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) to develop the next generation of 5G mmWave consumer premises equipment (CPE).

The grant enables the pioneering UK business to recruit up to ten new skilled electronic engineers – with the eventual potential to create a further 50 production jobs, assuming the new technology is successful.

Aimed at the global market for premises that require high bandwidths but cannot access alternatives such as fibre optic, the creation of a British designed, high-performance CPE is strategically important to the UK’s dynamic digital comms sector as it lessens its reliance on overseas suppliers.

While high-speed CPE units are available on the market, many manufacturers are using existing technology for the new 28GHz bands, which may not deliver the full potential of 5G at mmWave frequencies. Using a combination of next-generation silicone and software, combined with an electronically steerable antenna, Novocomms plans to deliver a best-in-class solution over the next 13 months.

Commenting on the new SBRI project, Sampson Hu, founder and CEO of Novocomms, said: “We’re delighted to have secured this funding from the SBRI, as it gives us the vital support we need to develop new technologies that will be used across the world. This is not simply research and development but is linked commercially to our belief that the global market for 5G mmWave devices is enormous. Our predictions on the huge potential for this technology were re-confirmed at this year’s Mobile World Congress, where there was a lot of interest in the adoption of 28GHz.”

Novocomms started working on the project in April 2024 and is planning to employ up to ten additional electronic engineers to help deliver the project. While the new CPE unit needs to operate in the 28GHz bands, it also needs to cope with difficult RF environments such as urban canyons and high background noise levels. To overcome this challenge, the UK team is working on an innovative self-steering high gain antenna, which will self-set-up, once the unit has been installed at the premises.

Hitting a competitive price band is another major objective of the SBRI project, which will be using novel materials and technology coupled with a proven supply chain to deliver a successful global product that will be used in both industrial environments and consumer premises such as domestic housing.

Funding for the project was provided by Innovate UK via the Small Business Research Initiative.

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